What Is Cryptocurrency? Here’s What You Need to Know
Cryptocurrencies let you purchase items and services, or trade them for profit. Here’s more about what cryptocurrency is, how to buy it and how to secure yourself.
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A cryptocurrency (or “crypto”) is a digital currency that can be used to purchase items and services, but uses an online ledger with strong cryptography to secure online transactions. Much of the interest in these unregulated currencies is to trade for profit, with speculators at times driving rates skyward.
Here are 7 things to inquire about cryptocurrency, and what to keep an eye out for.
1. What is cryptocurrency?
Cryptocurrency is a type of payment that can be exchanged online for goods and services. Many companies have provided their own currencies, typically called tokens, and these can be traded particularly for the great or service that the company supplies. Think about them as you would arcade tokens or casino chips. You’ll need to exchange real currency for the cryptocurrency to access the good or service.
Cryptocurrencies work utilizing an innovation called blockchain. Blockchain is a decentralized technology spread throughout lots of computers that manages and tapes deals. Part of the appeal of this innovation is its security.
2. The number of cryptocurrencies are there? What are they worth?
More than 6,700 various cryptocurrencies are traded publicly, according to CoinMarketCap.com, a marketing research site. And cryptocurrencies continue to multiply, raising money through initial coin offerings, or ICOs. The total value of all cryptocurrencies on Dec. 18, 2020, was more than $645.7 billion, according to CoinMarketCap, and the overall value of all bitcoins, the most popular digital currency, was pegged at about $421.7 billion. (You can inspect the current cost to buy Bitcoin here
3. Why are cryptocurrencies so popular?
Cryptocurrencies appeal to their advocates for a variety of reasons. Here are some of the most popular:
Advocates see cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin as the currency of the future and are racing to buy them now, probably before they become more valuable Some fans like the fact that cryptocurrency eliminates reserve banks from managing the cash supply, because with time these banks tend to reduce the value of money via inflation Other advocates like the technology behind cryptocurrencies, the blockchain, because it’s a decentralized processing and recording system and can be more protected than traditional payment systems Some speculators like cryptocurrencies due to the fact that they’re going up in value and have no interest in the currencies’ long-term acceptance as a method to move cash
4. Are cryptocurrencies an excellent financial investment?
Cryptocurrencies may go up in value, but many financiers see them as mere speculations, not real investments. The reason? Similar to genuine currencies, cryptocurrencies produce no cash flow, so for you to benefit, someone has to pay more for the currency than you did.
That’s what’s called “the higher fool” theory of investment. Contrast that to a well-managed company, which increases its value gradually by growing the profitability and capital of the operation.
For those who see cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin as the currency of the future, it ought to be kept in mind that a currency needs stability.” As NerdWallet authors have actually noted, cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin may not be that safe, and some noteworthy voices in the financial investment community have actually encouraged would-be investors to avoid them. Of specific note, legendary financier Warren Buffett compared Bitcoin to paper checks: “It’s a really reliable method of sending cash and you can do it anonymously and all that. A check is a method of sending money too. Are checks worth a great deal of cash? Even if they can send money?” For those who see cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin as the currency of the future, it should be kept in mind that a currency requires stability so that merchants and customers can identify what a fair cost is for goods. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have been anything however stable through much of their history. For example, while Bitcoin traded at close to $20,000 in December 2017, its worth then dropped to as low as about $3,200 a year later on. By December 2020, it was trading at record levels once again.
This rate volatility creates a dilemma. If bitcoins might be worth a lot more in the future, people are less likely to spend and distribute them today, making them less practical as a currency. Why spend a bitcoin when it could be worth 3 times the value next year?